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Prostate Cancer: Cystoscopy or Bladder Scope Test

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What Is Cystoscopy?

Cystoscopy, also called a cystourethroscopy or, more simply, a bladder scope, is a test to measure the health of the urethra and bladder.

The procedure involves inserting a tube into the urethra through the opening at the end of the penis. It allows the doctor to visually examine the complete length of the urethra and the bladder for polyps, strictures (narrowing), abnormal growths, and other problems.

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The test is performed:

  • To diagnose and evaluate diseases of the urinary tract
  • To identify cancers of the bladder or urethra
  • To determine the cause of pain in the urinary tract

How Does the Test Work?

Cystoscopes are tubular instruments equipped with lights and viewing devices used to examine the interior of the urinary tract. There are two types of cystoscopes: a standard rigid cystoscope and a flexible cystoscope. The choice of which scope to use depends on the purpose of the exam.

In both methods, the test is carried out very similarly, with the exception of positioning. With the standard rigid cystoscope, you lie on your back with your knees up and apart. The urethra is cleaned and a local anesthetic to numb the area is applied. The scope is then inserted through the urethra into the bladder.

If your doctor uses a flexible cystoscope, this position is not required. Your doctor will help you find a comfortable position.

During the procedure, water is inserted through the cystoscope and into your bladder. Your doctor will ask you a series of questions regarding how you feel when your bladder is filled. When the bladder is full of water, it stretches. This allows your doctor to view the entire bladder wall.

If any tissue appears abnormal, a biopsy (tissue sample) can be taken through the cystoscope to be analyzed.

The entire procedure generally takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

Does the Test Hurt?

You may feel discomfort as the cystoscope is placed into the urethra and bladder. You will probably feel a strong need to urinate when the water fills the bladder. If a biopsy is taken you may feel a slight pinch.

After the procedure, the urethra may be sore and you will feel a burning sensation during urination for a day or two.

What Are the Risks of Cystoscopy?

The risks of having a cystoscopy include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding from biopsy area (slight risk)
  • Rupturing of the bladder wall (slight risk)
  • A condition called hyponatremia which upsets the natural balance of sodium in your body

Contact your doctor if you notice any of the following after the cystoscopy:

  • Severe pain at the insertion site
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • A reduction in urine flow

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on January 16, 2016
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